ARNELL (b. 1917)
Symphony No. 4 op. 52 (1948) [25:45]
Symphony No. 5 op. 77 (1955-57) [39:05]
rec. Church of the Holy Trinity, Tempe, Arizona, 10-11, 24-25
August 2005. DDD CON BRIO CBR27452 [64:50]
I was surprised
and then delighted to discover this disc. Not least because
of the identically coupled CD issued by Dutton as recently
as 2007 (CDLX 7194 - see review).
Brio benefits - and suffers - from a generally warmer sound
which is presumably down to the church acoustic as against
the more analytical Henry Wood Hall for Dutton and conductor
Martin Yates. Well, the fact is that these works can easily
stand multiple recordings.
Symphony may have been finished in London but it was started
in New York and its American credentials are unmistakable.
It progresses through a strenuous first movement of stress
and tragedy coloured by Shostakovich predominantly yet with
a dusting of Copland. There’s then a very warm Andante redolent
in its string writing of Nielsen’s Fifth. The finale however
shows how deeply influenced Arnell had been by the Roy Harris
of the Symphonies 3 and 5 complete with belling horns and
generally triumphant and gloriously rowdy brass. The Fifth
Symphony’s central Andante sections hark back to the
counterpart movement in the Fourth. Arnell 5 is one of the
last century’s finest symphonies so do search this one or
the Dutton out. The ‘jazzy’ sections of the middle movement
passingly recall Randall Thompson’s Second Symphony and the
wonderful finale of Piston’s Second.
seem to engage faithfully with the music, are confident and
in no way tentative. Yates takes about a minute longer than
Cohen over No. 4 while in No. 5 Cohen is two and a bit minutes
longer than Yates. Cohen conveys the natural pulse of the
music whether in syncopated exertion, benign sanguine reflection
or the uproar of conflict (4) and celebration (5). Yates
is given a more transparent recording but is just as secure
in putting across this searing (4) and life-enhancing (5)
that Con Brio and Warren Cohen will give us the other Arnell
symphonies but of even greater value now is for us to hear
works such as Sinfonia Quasi Variazione and Ode to the West Wind – works which are already
under the belt of MusicNova and their free spirit of a conductor. The MusicNova concert programmes should be an education
to the administration and policy people in the world’s ‘great’ orchestras
with their tired programme choices and dowdy predictability.
world premiere recordings having been taken down in sessions
two years before the Dutton equivalents.
From the Music Director of MusicaNova
We have recorded
all six of the Arnell Symphonies; we recorded our live performance
of no.3, which was the first
live performance of this work since Barbirolli's truncated
version in 1953 (And thus the first live performance of the
complete work). We have not mastered any of the remaining
works - both time and money are at a premium, but I fully
intend to get on trying to get more finished this summer,
and if possible to record some more works - we did the Sinfonia
Quasi Variazione and Ode to the West Wind as a
90th birthday tribute to Arnell this part fall, and the works
were very enthusiastically received. Long term, there are
other works and other composers we are keen to record including
Leo Sowerby, Hans Gál and Leonard Salzedo - it all comes
down to interest from record companies (there is some there)
and getting the money to do it! Warren Cohen Note: this is an enterprising orchestra and Warren
Cohen is clearly a free spirit. Their concert programme included
the above two Arnell works on 21 October 2007 alongside Sibelius
7. They have also performed in the same season Hans Gál’s
Violin Concerto (30 March 2008) and Ireland’s Downland
Suite (2 March 2008) alongside esoterica by Boris Tchaikovsky
(Symphony 3), Othmar Schoeck (Horn Concerto) and Harald Genzmer.
More details and to purchase their CD of Arnell’s Symphonies
4 and 5 at the Musica Nova website.
from previous months Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the
discs reviewed. details We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to
which you refer.